Thursday, 6 November 2014

Phantom of the Opera Reviewed

Phantom of the Opera celebrated its 28th anniversary on October 10th and has recently been given an update. As I had seen the show years ago I wanted to see what, if anything had changed. Andrew Lloyd-Webber's multi award-winning musical is a captivating love story with astounding music that gets into your soul. At least that is how I remembered it. I looked forward to a refresher in romance, tragedy and love and was not disappointed. 

I went on to His Majesty`s Theatre Theatre Haymarket for the matinee performance at 2.30 pm. I had paid £21 for my ticket with taking advantage of the offer of no booking fee. The seat was in the Grand Circle and had a slightly restricted view. I was able to move to a better seat within the Grand Circle during the interval as a third of these seats were empty. I am sure this wouldn`t be the case during an evening performance. The cast are astounding!

The stage setting are impressive and dramatic and I loved the Masquerade's ball. The costume colours are bright and jewel like and I like the cloaks that seem to float around half the stage. It is the chandelier that captures the drama of the opening scene as it shuffles and moves and rises high over the audience. I think this is a major improvement of the earlier performance as it brings the phantom immediately into the play. The chandelier has a further role during the play and the height of the stage is put to good use for ghostly frights. The stage sets are mind blowing how they can creates such effects on a stage is wonderful.

The candles parting like the biblical parting of the waves as the boat carrying Christine and the Phantom down the misty lake would take a lot of beating. The orchestra spilling out haunting music as fingers fly over violins is special and the mists circling the actors creates an entrancing setting. It is a beautiful musical that everyone should see. We all stood to cheer the actors when the `Music of the Night` stopped.

London theatre Tip

Matinee preformances on a week day are often not full so it is usually possible to move into a better seat.  


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Harry Potter Tour

Harry Potter World - Katrina is checking out the uniforms
The Three Tier Bus

Harry Potter Tour tickets cost £30 per person and the tour lasts a few hours. We spent three hours there which included wandering around ourselves. There is a free bus service from Watford train station to the studios and the buses leave every half hour.


This is a large precise model of the school which was used in most of the films

So much work has gone into making all the props it is quite amazing.

This looks like ice but is infact plastic, everything is so realistic and the street look like you could open the doors and enter a shop or house. There is nothing behind the doors though, all the interiors are in the studio.

looks so realistic

It is a great day out and you can even buy `butter beer` to drink and have your photo taken on a flying broomstick.

Wands, spell books and cloaks, scarfs and scary faces, and Harry line the walls and look great. It is very expensive in the shop though were a wand costs £25.

Do get some tickets if you haven`t been you will love it and so will the kids. Tickets would make a great Christmas pressie.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Birds Eye Fill Up Teenagers and Freezers!

"This post is an entry for #Afterschoolschefs Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook Page."


We got all the above for just £10 so we added more fish and more burgers. We had £20 of Birds Eye vouchers to spend.

Getting back into a routine once the children return to school can be a challenge, twins Charlie and Grace are 12 and Sam is 15.  Grace is a fussy eater but will always eat chicken so that is always on the shopping list. These Birds Eye Chicken Breasts, which have two per pack and lots different varieties are fantastic for getting Grace to eat a healthy meal. Even if the rest of the family are having something else it takes no time to prepare a chicken breast with some new potatoes or a fresh salad.
Grace helps put the shopping away

The boys like most their ages have hollow legs so the more on their plates the better!  Burgers and chips, fish and potatoe waffles, and chicken with baked potatoes are all easy to prepare.

Charlie tucks into fish and chips

After School tips.

We make muffins and flapjacks as after school snacks as this helps the family budget by having something ready after school. The own brand sponge mixes supermarkets allow us to make cakes for pennies.  There is also less mess than measuring out all the ingredients separately! 

After football practice Sam likes to bring his friends round and they are always famished. Beef and Chicken burgers are an easy and filling choice. Add a few quorn sausages in hotdog rolls for the veggies and everyone goes home happy.

We do make chocolate brownies from scratch though and they disappear very quickly.

Chocolate Brownies

Best of all with the children are all old enough to pop the the food in the oven and take over preparing dinner.

When nanna and grandad come for dinner we use Birds Eye prawn curry, make rice and get some flat breads. The kids cook it all ourselves and nanna and grandad are usually very impressed.

Sam messing about
Sam has claimed these

Charlie is cooking tea

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

My Fabulous Winning Hobby - Carden Park Hotel Chester

Carden Park Hotel Chester

An amazing garden

I won an overnight Spa break via a slogan competition with Red Letter Experience Days and chose this beautiful De Vere Hotel Carden Park in Chester. The hotel is fabulous and has a massive golf course, amazing food and enchanting treatment rooms. The pool is large and the hot tub inviting, the rooms have big comfortable beds and there is a selection of activities called `Muddy Good Fun` for all the family. Segways zoom over the fields carrying delighted children and archery arrows fly towards their targets. I had a lovely back massage and a facial, my daughter Katrina went for a manicure and chose a bag of spa goodies to take home. The staff were wonderful with Katrina, she couldn`t have the back massage and facial due to recent radiotherapy.

Full Hotel details

Even better I was able to stay for two nights after I won a hotel voucher with via twitter.

My daughter and I stayed in a twin room which was on the first floor it was spacious and quiet. We had breakfast in the large conservatory which overlooked the golf course and ate dinner in the bistro. The food was exceptionally good and the prices were very reasonable. 

Just chilling

Ideal for everyone not just golfers
The hotel seemed very popular for weddings and the gardens were being prepared for a wedding as we left on Saturday morning. As you arrive at the hotel there is a long sweeping drive through the grounds to reach the entrance and you can imagine the original manor house residents receiving their guests.  The hotel also offers suites and these are situated behind the hotel overlooking some impressive scenery. Chester is only 10 miles away and there are numerous places to visit in the surrounding areas.  We found a lovely country pub just a few miles away and had a lazy lunch there.

Part of the beautiful gardens

Me enjoying the grounds at Carden Park Hotel

It is a big birthday for me in December and I have to say I would love to celebrate my big 60 at Carden Park.  Hint hint my gang. :)

Mid week prices start at £89 per twin or double room with breakfast and use of all Spa facilities. That is really very good for such a great hotel.

Twin/Family rooms have two large double beds

Best place for competitions

Best place for comping information follow
@SuperLuckyDi on twitter 


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Whales, Dolphins and Celebrations.

To celebrate my 32 year old daughter Katrina being given the all clear from mouth cancer we went on this amazing trip. I won this with Nutella late last year. You had to write about a trip you would take for a day up to the value of £3,000. Luckily for us they like this trip and they booked it all for four of us including hotel stays and car hire.

 We flew to Inverness from our local Luton airport then picked up a hire car. Driving over misty mystical mountains to Gailoch took and hour and half, we had booked a four hour whale watching boat trip here. The boat trip cost £75 per person in a twelve seater hard hull boat and the skipper was brilliant. After being kitted out in waterproof clothing it was off on our adventure. The sea was calm but it was a misty drizzling day but we were very happy that bad weather had not prevented the trip taking place. Ten miles out to sea and the most beautiful amazing sight danced out before our eyes. A pod of around 80 dolphins sprang out of the water some of the females came right up to the boat showing off their tiny babies. There was just us the sea and the dolphins it was truly amazing. 
Then the boat went out to 30 miles and we just sat and waited. The sea and sky blended together and it was a surreal experience. The music to jaws playing in my head disappeared as the skipper shouted 11 o clock! our heads turned to the place were a huge whale dived through the waters. Then another few appeared, they were Minke whales and were much bigger than I imagined. They were not as close to us as the dolphins but we had a perfect view. Stunning! Off next to the Shetland Isle puffin cliffs were puffins filled the sky and shags fished for their dinner. 

Tiny chicks looked down from the cliffs guarded by a parent and the scenery was straight off a movie set. Seals bobbed up to say hello and otters scooted for cover. A very memorable beautiful trip. We then stayed overnight in the Mythe Hotel which was just a mile up the coast and was a lovely place with excellent local food. A flight back to London the next morning and we headed to the Rembrantt Hotel in Knightsbridge. This was right facing the Victoria and Albert Museum and nearby science museum. We spent the afternoon in the spa next door which had special rates for guests of the hotel. Then it was time for our booking in the Oblix Restaurant at the Shard. The restaurant is a busy bar with live music and spectacular views over London. 
The service was exceptional and great efforts by the chef and staff were made to accommodate Katrina`s limited ability to eat. We had a wonderful time the food is small, exquisite and expensive. What an an amazing weekend.
View from the Shard

Here is video that my son took while we were there, it is ten minutes long and the first few minutes show the amazing dolphins.

UKbreakaways have some amazing breaks in fabulous places in the Uk including Scotland and London. They are also running a competition to win £250 worth of holiday vouchers  here.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Fabulous Winning Year

I have had another fantastic year with my comping hobby, winning some pretty amazing prizes over the year.

Spa Days for 2 x 12 in January with Barclay Cards Facebook comp. We had a girls day out using 16 of these in one go. It was great fun.

Attending the Baftas thanks to the Mirror Newspaper and the Book Awards with Specsaver. Both of these included overnight stays in London and were amazing.

I have been to the Buckingham Palace Coronation festival thanks to Waitrose purchase comp and  as VIP to the Henley Regatta from a twitter comp.

A week in Turkey
I was asked to go and review a hotel in Turkey for a week for Solo holidays which was due to writing reviews for

Spun on rides at Alton Towers again thanks to twitter and had afternoon tea in Bond Street. Another booked for February as well as a theatre tickets.

My nephew has watched his favourite team Arsenal from the executive box and his brother and sister had a wonderful time at a sleepover in Hamleys Toy Shop. One was an email comp the other a good old fashioned slogan.

A hudi from Tescos twitter comp, Sci-Fi weekend passes for 6 from an email and plenty of small prizes.

My best prize by far this year though has been winning one of the ten Nutella £3,000 plan your own special day prizes. This was a fun creative comp. We have chosen to go and see some whales in Scotland so that is something to look forward to next year.

I use compers news, http://www, and for most of my comping information and they are all brilliant. You do need to put in the hours though and search around for those low entry comps. I am not keen on fb comps but really like twitter. I am happy to enter most comps except voting and have won a few prizes using photos the most recent being a fancy coffee pot from an advent comp. Plus smaller prizes.

Total value of my wins is over £12,000 - excellent year

Here is my pinterest board showing some of my great prizes

Have a lucky 2014

January 2014

1. Afternoon Tea at Gorge Hotel in Knightsbridge

2. Box seats, champagne and programme to Let it Be Musical London

3. Goody bag and book for 12 years a Slave

4. Babour Dog Coat

5. Sets of 2013 comemerative stamps

6. Now TV freeview box

7. A Two Day London Pass - excellent free entry to lots of places.